Teaching… OUTDOORS!

Teaching… Outdoors!

 

So this past summer I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in a program where prospective teachers would gain experience in classrooms in and around Dublin, Ireland. My placement was a little unique because it was one of very few secular schools in Ireland. Aside from being a secular school, the school I was placed at was unique from other schools in Ireland and even here in a few different ways; most notably, the school I was placed in had a student centered curriculum. This student centered curriculum was great! It was so refreshing to see student’s interests being taken into account, not only in the curriculum, but in how it was taught; teaching became more of a discussion and a collaborative effort between the teacher and student versus just having a teacher talk students for the day. One more interesting thing about this school was how they taught religion; students were taught all religions equally in school, which is different from how we approach cultural differences in the United States. Additionally, if students want to spend more time on any one religion in particular they were allowed to do so during after school programs.

 

There is one unique thing about the school I was placed at that I would like to expand on further and that is Forest School. Once a week, students would make their way out of the classroom and up a scenic hill (and that is being modest because it more closely resembled a mountain) where they would do activities and hands on learning for the day; they called this Forest School. Now don’t get me wrong, the field trips that we do here in the United States are great and provide some great learning experiences for our students, but what stuck out to me about Forest School is the frequency at which they get out and do this; once a week compared to maybe once a semester in some schools here in the United States. So you may be asking yourself “What do they do in Forest School?”.  During Forest school students do hands on building projects, reflecting and hypothesizing about things in nature, mentoring their younger peers, and playing and socializing with their classmates.

 

So all of this thinking about Forest School has me wondering; Can learning outdoors be beneficial for promoting literacy? Seeing the students out there, even though it was a regular occurrence, they were much more engaged and cooperative, so why not try and teach out there? Immediately I started thinking about my own content area of science and biology and the possibilities are endless. For example, I could have students do a mark and recapture experiment to estimate the population of a species, explain why leaves change colors with real life examples, try and identify rocks, or have students hypothesize about why certain trees or shorter than others. Thinking about this some more I came to the conclusion that you could use the outdoors for teaching just about anything, and maybe it was just the fresh open air that made the students more engaged, not the fact that the teaching was specific for the environment. For example, maybe one could teach basic addition and subtraction using rocks and leaves, or read poetry about nature in nature. The point I’m making is that I believe that using the outdoors occasionally may be beneficial to students learning by making that learning authentic and maybe exploring teaching outside of the classroom could be beneficial. Given my limited exposure to teaching in this environment, I am excited to get a chance to try it out.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog #2 Those Terms of Service on Popular Websites DO Matter!

http://plpnetwork.com/2014/04/22/terms-service-popular-websites-matter/

Part I: Summary

This article serves to give some insight and warning on what the general public, and more specifically, students are agreeing to when they agree to the terms of service to an online service. The teacher that wrote this article wrote it after attending an educational technology conference where she visited the vendors booth’s. While at the vendor’s booths, she spoke to someone at a booth for a 3D printing company which got her excited to sign up for an account. Later on when she signed up for the account she noticed some things that stood out in the terms of service agreement; when she asked a representative about it their response was essentially that you should not take the terms of service “seriously”. Further investigation would reveal that many of the free and discounted services that many of us use, particularly those in educational technology sell the information that we give them, compromising our security and the security of our students. The rest of the article talks about weighing the risks against the benefits when signing up for a service, and to try and find services that are FERPA and COPPA compliant, and that those services will be more than willing to tell you about their compliance with those acts, though they generally tend to charge since they can’t turn a profit by selling the information of their users.

Part II: Q&A

Q1: What is your opinion of the issue in the article? Agree or disagree? Why?

The article is informative and interesting, it expands on what I feel a lot of us already know in that companies that offer a free service generally sell our information. However, the article is kind of pointless because many of these services that are offered as alternatives to more popular services, like those offered by Google, cannot match up as far as functionality goes. So really the article serves as a warning with no real economical solution. So I agree with it’s message but disagree with the lack of solutions offered toward the issue.

Q2: How will the issue help or hinder student learning?

The reason that I mostly disagree with this article is that it criticizes the practices of those who offer educational technology services without offering a comparable alternative to these services (you can’t expect everyone to pay for a lesser service). This could hinder student learning if teachers read into this too much and stop using these effective services that we already know work to help student learning.

Q3: What limitations or criticisms of the idea are important to consider?

 

The idea presented in this article, though extremely valid, presents serious limitations to teachers and students if taken seriously. Though there are other services out there that you can pay for that don’t sell your information, you are once again assuming that you, your students, or your school are going to be willing to pay for the service, and that the service is just as good as the one that does sell your information, which generally isn’t true. For example, there are plenty of video hosting sites like YouTube that aren’t YouTube; even if these sites were free and didn’t sell your information, there is no way that they match YouTube in sheer amount of content, ease of use, and sharable content. So basically avoiding these services amounts to you paying for a lesser service, and a hindered education for your students.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog #1 Analysis: More money for schools, but not for classrooms Funding boosted, but here’s why it isn’t helping students

http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/article/20140201/NEWS01/302010023/Analysis-More-money-schools-not-classrooms?nclick_check=1

 

Part I: Summary

This article is about Governor Rick Snyder and his supposed one billion dollar cut from K-12 education. This accusation results from a suggestion that the Governor had made back in February of 2011 in which he suggested the cut of nearly 1 billion dollars.  Though this is not what happened and the accusation itself has flaws. The Governor’s suggestion was based on accounting for a substantial loss in federal stimulus money, which he had no control over; That being said the cut still happened, though it was not as much as initially anticipated mostly due to an unexpected economic upturn. Rick Snyder’s new budget actually shows an increase in the money allotted to K-12 Education, the problem is that this money isn’t making into the classrooms. The reason for this money not making it into the classrooms stems from a move made by a lot of districts to cut costs by offering early retirement to teachers; happened to in 2010 and now it’s time to make good on those retirement costs. Basically this extra money is being met with an extra large bill from the Office of Retirement Services that cannot go unpaid.

Part II: Q&A

Q1: What is your opinion of the issue in the article? Agree or disagree? Why?

The issue in the article is that our schools are underfunded and money is not getting to them, and this is something that I disagree with. Me disagreeing with this doesn’t to much and though I feel this is an obvious stand point, education should not take a backseat to any service and should always be given priority. This should be a non issue, if cuts are to be made it should not be to education.

Q2: How will the issue help or hinder student learning?

This will hinder student learning, less funding has huge implications on a students success though it is not the most important thing, it is still huge. Less funding means less resources to give to students whether that be in the form of programs, school supplies, lab equipment, books, desks, or even the ability to attract elite teachers.

Q3: What examples of issues have you observed in your own experience?

Examples of this funding issue are prevalent in urban areas such as Detroit where there are not enough books for the kids, the libraries are barren, and the schools themselves can appear to be dangerous.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog #0

Connected Districts, Part 2: Prioritizing ed-tech

Part I: Summary

 

 

Part II: Q’s & A’s

Q1: afsldkfj;laksjdf

A1:flaskjd;lfkj;oi

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment